By Tamara Pupic
A team of Canadian students has been announced as winner of the The Hult Prize MENA finals, held in Dubai
A Canada-based start-up team has won the MENA finals of The Hult Prize Foundation’s international student competition for social good, held on 14 March at Hult Dubai’s campus.
Beating more than 200 students that made up the 46 teams from universities across the region, Team Attallo from University of Toronto is now on course for the Hult Prize Global Finals in New York, with a prize fund of $1 million (AED3.67 million).
The competition, which was founded in 2009 by Ahmad Ashkar, a Palestinian entrepreneur, and has been held in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and the Hult International Business School, represents the biggest student competition in the world.
In addition to the regional finals held in Dubai, other regional finals were held simultaneously in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai, with a sixth held online.
The participants of all the six finals were resolving this year’s challenge of building start-ups to provide sustainable early education solutions for 10 million children in urban slums previously set by Former President Bill Clinton.
Speaking about the finals held in Dubai, Ashkar said: “The standard of entries this year was extremely high and we were blown away with the innovation and creativity displayed by the students.
“From the many worthy entries, the winning idea of Team Attallo stood out for its simplicity and elegance and we wish the team well in the next step of the Hult Prize journey.
“Solving issues such as childhood education is an incredibly difficult challenge, but as we have seen, these fine young people are more than up to the task.”
This year’s MENA judging panel decided that Team Attallo’s idea of bridging the ‘word gap’ – a lack of childhood vocabulary and the resultant development issues that underprivileged children often face – should be presented in the The Hult Prize Global Finals, hosted by Bill Clinton in September.
One of the Team Attallo’s member, Aisha Bukhari said at the award ceremony: “We came up with the idea in the past two months. The biggest thing is for us to impact the lives of 10 million children and so winning this regional final is a great start for us.
“We have a plan that we’re hoping to complete between now and September and we hope that the regional finals and Hult Accelerator will give us the momentum to actually go through with it.”
All successful finalists will go on to attend the Hult Prize Accelerator in July, a six-week programme of intensive entrepreneurial seminars hosted by Hult International Business School.
The teams will then attend CGI's annual meeting in September, where Bill Clinton will host the Hult Prize Global Finals.
Each year, Clinton announces a call to action in late September, and applications for participation are open through mid-December with final selections being announced in the first week of January of the following year.
For a full list of this year’s finalists, please visit: www.hultprize.org/en/compete/2015-prize/2015-finalists/